What are my DIY options for installing my own sunroof?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 2000

Dear Tom and Ray:

I am the proud owner of a 1987 Mercury Grand Marquis station wagon. Right now, it's painted spearmint green with two large racing stripes up the middle. I have also
attached several strands of Christmas tree lights to the hood. This all works fine, but I was thinking that a real big sunroof would make the car perfect. Being a poor,
recently graduated student and seeing how the car isn't likely to last another year, I want to build the sunroof myself with the help of a saw. Will I do something really
bad to the car by trying this myself? What kind of saw would you guys recommend? -- Josh

TOM: Well, you and I certainly share the same respectful attitude toward our cars, Josh!

RAY: You can certainly try this yourself. It's hard to imagine doing much aesthetic harm to a spearmint green wagon with racing stripes and Christmas tree lights on it.
TOM: The only caution is that you don't want to make the sunroof too big, or you'll decrease the structural safety of the car -- of which the roof plays a key role. So
don't go overboard in terms of size.

RAY: The best tool for the job is a pair of air-powered tin snips. Body shops have these for cutting sheet metal. If you can't bribe a body shop into letting you use its
snips, then you may have to "go manual" and use regular tin snips.

TOM: Here's what I'd do. I'd cut the hole for the sunroof first, then I'd buy a piece of plexiglass from the hardware store. Put a nice, thick bead of silicone adhesive
around the edge of the plexiglass, lay it on top of the hole and then secure it with an armload of sheet metal screws.

RAY: Then your only challenge will be figuring out what to do with the tattered remains of the headliner that you cut up while taking a piece of the roof off. You might
want to check with Martha Stewart. I think she wrote an article recently called "Sewing 18th Century Lace Pattern Doilies Out of '87 Mercury Headliners." Good luck,

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